The decade in music: A year-by-year timeline

Empty illuminated stage with drumkit, guitar and microphones

Empty illuminated stage with drumkit, guitar and microphones Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cramming every notable local music event from the past decade into a few pages isn’t easy. It’s not even possible. So don’t think of this timeline as a comprehensive guide to the past 10 years. Think of it as a series of snapshots to jog your memory.


Gayngs, a 22-person supergroup led by Ryan Olson and featuring everyone from Justin Vernon to P.O.S, celebrates the release of Relayted at First Avenue in May with a two-night event, “The Last Prom on Earth.” In the cruelest tease of the year, Prince shows up one night and loiters in the wings with his guitar, never to step onstage.

In a big year for local music releases, Dessa puts out her first solo album,A Badly Broken Code, while Chris Koza’s Rogue Valley project releases an album for each season.

First Avenue gets to work. The club opens the Depot Tavern, and that summer the exterior walls get a new paint job. In other venue news, the Aster Cafe at St. Anthony Main begins hosting music.

The Jayhawks lineup that recorded Tomorrow the Green Grass reunites for three Mainroom shows and announce another show for the following year.

RIP: Micheal Larsen, a.k.a. Eyedea, of an accidental drug overdose, mourned at an all-star memorial concert held on what would have been his 29th birthday; Bobby Meide, drummer for the Flamin’ Ohs, 59.

Read more about local music in 2010 here.


After recovering from a serious heart attack, Bobby Z, Prince’s first drummer, announces that the Revolution will reform for a benefit at First Avenue to raise heart disease awareness the following February—the band’s first show together since 2003. A series of benefits is also held for former Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart, after he loses many of his belongings in a house fire.

The married duo Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle disband Roma di Luna. Channy (as Channy Leaneagh) launches Poliça, recording a full-length with Gayngs producer Ryan Olson while Alexei continues performing in Kill the Vultures. Speaking of Gayngs, they call it quits too in March.

Minnesota musicians, including Brother Ali, Toki Wright, Sean Anonymous, Guante, Mayda, Grant Hart, and Jeremy Messersmith, throw their support behind the OccupyMN protests.

RIP: Ruth Adams, beloved accordionist for longtime Nye’s attraction the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band, 79; former Bash & Pop bassist Kevin Foley, 52; Elliot Hill, drummer for the Softrocks, 26.

Read more about local music in 2011 here.


Former Replacements guitarist Bob “Slim” Dunlap suffers a serious stroke. Jim Walsh organizes a “Hoot for Slim” at the Amsterdam, while Replacements Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson team with Kevin Bowe and Peter Anderson to record a four-song benefit EP.

The Brick, AEG Live’s new downtown Minneapolis venue, opens in March with a Jane’s Addiction show so disastrous that future bookings decide to play elsewhere. Unable to live down its bad rep, the club is overhauled and reopens as Mill City Nights.

Howler frontman Jordan Gatesmith talks shit about the Minneapolis music scene in a U.K. interview, calling out the 4onthefloor as “Mumford & Sons crap.” The 4ot4 respond by recording a song set to the tune of the Mumfords’ “The Cave” called... what else? “Mumford & Sons Crap.”

Y.N. Rich Kids, young rappers from a North Community YMCA after-school program, go viral with “Hot Cheetos and Takis.”

A three-woman rap group called the Chalice, featuring a young transplant named Lizzo, drops its debut EP and eventually wins Picked to Click. Lizzo will win Picked to Click as a solo artist the following year.

RIP: Daniel Levy, 21, son of the Honeydogs’ frontman Adam Levy, takes his own life after a battle with mental illness.

Read more about local music in 2012 here.


The Suburbs’ “Love Is the Law” becomes the unofficial anthem of marriage equality, and the band celebrates the passage of the Freedom to Marry Bill with a concert downtown. Chan Poling and co. also release their first album in 27 years, Si Sauvage, in August.

Other notable local releases include Har Mar Superstar’s Bye Bye 17, featuring “Lady, You Shot Me,” and Low’s The Invisible Way.

The rumors are true: Detroit rapper Danny Brown was indeed blown by a female fan during a Triple Rock concert. “I just felt embarrassed because I wasn’t all the way hard yet,” he later told Complex. Yeah, that’s what they all say.

RIP: Zach Sobiech, 18, known for his viral hit “Clouds”; Cabooze manager Jason Aukes Rock, 36; journalist and A&R man Tim Carr, 57; Phantom Vibration guitarist Henry Mackaman, 21; groundbreaking concert promoter Sue McLean, 63; First Avenue staffer Billy Sverkerson, 60.

Read more about local music in 2013 here.

Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements

Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements Star Tribune


Free earplugs become the law of the land after the Minneapolis City Council requires most music venues to provide protection for their patrons. Not in St. Paul, though, where the renovated Turf Club reopens under the ownership of First Avenue, which acquired the bar in late 2014. (See that smooth transition I made there?) The kitchen and bathrooms are new, the ceilings are higher, but the vibe is pretty much the same. Another storied Minneapolis venue fails to be resurrected, however, when the 400 Bar’s plans to reopen at the Mall of America are quashed.

The Replacements reunion finally comes to Minnesota with a show at the soon-to-be-demolished Midway Stadium in St. Paul. The music is great. The jackets are plaid. The fans are sloshed.

In Doomtree news, P.O.S finally gets a new kidney, and celebrates with a solo show at First Ave. The rest of the crew hold their 10th and final Blowout in December and release their new album All Hands the following January.

RIP: Run Westy Run founding member Kyle Johnson, 54; local music writer Tom Hallett, 50.

Read more about local music in 2014 here.


Vieux Carré opens in the old Artists’ Quarter space. The Sound Gallery closes in the North Loop to make way for condos or some bullshit. A 30-square-foot chunk of the First Avenue ceiling collapses during a Theory of a Deadman show, injuring several concertgoers (none seriously), and causing the club to shut down for a couple weeks. Oh, and one day there isn’t a $50,000 Bob Dylan mural painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra at the corner of Fifth and Hennepin, and the next day, well, there is.

The Current makes a few major personnel shifts. DJ Barb Abney is unexpectedly fired; she quickly finds a new home at Go 96.3. Later in the year, Mary Lucia takes a leave of absence to recover from her experience with a stalker. And David Campbell hands The Local Show offto former City Pages music editor Andrea Swensson.

Northwest Community Television reports that Sisqó lives in Maple Grove, where, he says, “families are just living and exercising and riding bikes—no thongs out here!” City Pages will not fucking shut up about it.

Big doings in the local rap world. Rhymesayers Entertainment holds its 20th anniversary concert at Target Center, while Doomtree throws their first-ever Doomtree Zoo festival at CHS Field in St. Paul. And Allan Kingdom, the winner of the 2014 Picked to Click poll, appears on Kanye West’s song “All Day” and joins Ye onstage at the Billboard Music Awards.

RIP:John Kuker, owner of Cannon Falls’ famed Pachyderm recording studio, 40; drummer Thomas “Tommy Gunn” Alsides, 52; Justin Lowe, guitarist and co-founder of Twin Cities metalcore band After the Burial, found dead near the St. Croix River, 32; and 48-year-old non-Minnesotan Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, found dead on his tour bus in Bloomington.

Read more about local music in 2015 here.


Prince Nancy Bundt


Go 95.3 FM, the first modern hip-hop station in the Twin Cities since 2010, launches under the ownership of the Pohlads and the musical direction of Mr. Peter Parker.

Mill City Nights closes, but a whole lotta new music venues sprout up. The James Ballentine VFW Post 246 christens a 400-capacity concert space, bringing live music back to Uptown. The Warming House opens as an intimate new space in south Minneapolis. The Viking Bar reopens on the West Bank. The Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge takes over the Patrick’s Cabaret space in Longfellow. And then there’s U.S. Bank Stadium, which immediately faces complaints about its boomy, echoey sound.

Bands break up, as bands will: Minnesota-spawned pop-punks Motion City Soundtrack, along with Murder Shoes, ON AN ON, Frankie Teardrop, In Defence, and GRRRL PRTY.

RIP: Fargo-born pop star Bobby Vee, 73; Nye’s pianist “Sweet Lou” Snider, 81; Monty Lee Wilkes, veteran First Avenue sound engineer, 54. Oh yeah, and Prince, 57.

Read more about local music in 2016 here.


Following an extensive rehab project, the Palace Theatre re-opens as a music venue in St. Paul, owned by the city and managed by First Avenue, and within weeks it’s hard to remember how we ever lived without it. Across the river United Properties reveals its initial plans for a 2,000-capacity space near Target Field, to be operated by concert booking behemoth Live Nation and modeled after the historic Fillmore theater in San Francisco. Even more good news for music fans: Whittier dive bar Mortimer’s, under new ownership, begins booking live music toward the end of the year.

The Twin Cities loses several institutions. Confronting “major health issues,” Arnellia Allen closes her St. Paul supper club Arnellia’s after a 25-year run. Treehouse Records owner Mark Trehus shutters the historic record store on the corner of 26th and Lyndale, formerly Oarjokefolkopus. And in maybe the biggest blow, the Triple Rock Social Club closes for good after 19 years.

McNally Smith College of Music abruptly shuts its doors just before the end of the semester, leaving employees and students in the lurch, and declares bankruptcy the following year.

RIP: Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart, 56; soul man Sonny Knight, 69; beloved door man at the Uptown Bar and elsewhere Ron Upton, 58; Chad Hanks, bassist for Minneapolis nu-metal band American Head Charge, 46.

Read more about local music in 2017 here.


The goddam Super Bowl happens. Local fellas Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis whip together an event called Super Bowl Live to showcase Minnesota music in a series of outdoor concerts on Nicollet Mall, where Idina Menzel is roasted by Minnesotans for suggesting on Twitter that 47 degrees is cold. A whole bunch of famous people come to town, including Cardi B, who draws fire for “appearing” at pricey events rather than performing, and not including Travis Scott, who’s sued for ditching at a scheduled show at Myth. Justin Timberlake does a weak-ass Prince tribute during an otherwise acceptable halftime performance.

The Viking Bar, which had reopened just two years earlier, closes. Across the river in Dinkytown, though, the Varsity Theater begins booking music again. And the Parkway Theater on Chicago Avenue reopens, showing movies and booking comedy in addition to serving as a much needed music venue in south Minneapolis. But the biggest venue news of all is that the Armory opens as an 8,400-capacity performance space in downtown Minneapolis.

The local music community rallies around Aaron “Hix” Lee of Red Daughters after a mugger shoots and wounds him in northeast Minneapolis.

After Dessa sings the national anthem at the Twins home opener, a bald eagle flips out and attacks Mariners pitcher James Paxton. (Neither man nor fowl is injured.) The rest of Dessa’s year goes much better: She releases an excellent new album, Chime, and her equally fine essay collection, My Own Devices.

Minnesota teen Kaitlyn Strom becomes an instant hero to millions (or at least three City Pages staffers) when she gets her head stuck in a truck tailpipe at the Winstock country music festival and declares: “Yeah I’m the tail pipe girl whachu know about it?”

First Avenue buys another club just up the road, the Fine Line Music Cafe, as well as the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

RIP: Viva Beck, beloved for the quirky cable-access TV show she put together with her husband, Jerry, for more than 20 years, Viva and Jerry’s Country Music Videos, 79; Norm Rogers, the early Jayhawks drummer who went on to play with Cows and worked as a bartender at Brit’s Pub for years after that, 61.

Read more about local music in 2018 here.


A big year for former Minnesotan Lizzo, who returns to the Twin Cities to play a pair of shows at the Palace in the spring and again to play two nights at the Armory in the fall. She releases her first major label full-length, Cuz I Love You, and licenses the hell out of its first single, “Juice.” But it’s an older song, “Truth Hurts,” that goes to number one—and stirs up controversy regarding its creation. Lizzo agrees to share credit with the Twitter user who came up with the line “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 percent that bitch,” but fights off a pair of songwriters who claim they had a hand in writing the song.

Following his possibly unrelated run-in with the staff of the Palace Theatre, the Current cans Morning Show co-host Brian Oake for undisclosed reasons. He starts a podcast.

More sad venue closings: Neither Vieux Carrénor Lee’s Liquor Lounge makes it through the year, and Duluth’s Red Herring Lounge goes up for sale. The Nomad World Pub is sold and renamed Part Wolf, and Big V’s, renamed the Midway Saloon, continues booking live music under its new ownership.

RIP: Tony Glover, key figure in the Minneapolis folk-blues revival of the ’60s, 79; Terry Katzman of Garage D’Or Records, 64; Ed Ackerson of Polara and BNLX, 54; blues great Willie Murphy, 79.

Read our analysis of the decade in local music here.